Saskatchewan

Syrian refugees among recipients of aid from donated crops

A group of farmers in Saskatchewan are among hundreds across Canada who are making donations of a crop to support international aid, including food for people fleeing Syria.

Canadian Foodgrains Bank provides aid around the world

Farmers in the Naicam-Spalding area, about 200 kilometres east of Saskatoon, are among hundreds of groups across Canada that are contributing proceeds of a crop to the Canadian Foodgrains Bank in support of international aid. (CBC)

A group of farmers in Saskatchewan are among hundreds across Canada who are making donations of a crop to support international aid, including food for people fleeing Syria.

Saskatchewan farmers harvest a crop for the Canadian Foodgrains Bank, which provides aid around the world. (CBC)

"It would be hard to imagine what it would be like to be hungry all the time. We never experience that," Cam Ferguson, who is part of the Naicam-Spalding Growers Project, said. "We take food for granted."

The Naicam-Spalding Growers Project is named for two communities, about 200 kilometres east of Saskatoon, where six farmers have banded together to support the Canadian Foodgrains Bank. They are one of 30 such groups in Saskatchewan and 260 Canada-wide.

Here's how it works: A landowner offers some land, agricultural input companies donate seed, fertilizer, and pesticides and farmers provide their time, equipment and fuel to grow a crop.

They sell what they harvest and donate the proceeds to the Canadian Food Grains Bank, which is a partnership of 15 churches. They use the money to feed the hungry and teach conservation farming in developing countries.

"We don't ship food from Canada anymore, that's what we used to do," Dave Meier, Saskatchewan coordinator for the Canadian Foodgrains Bank, explained.

In recent years the Syrian refugee crisis has been a priority.

"We have programmed $29 million into Syria over the last four years," Meier said.

The Naicam-Spalding farmers expect their harvest, roughly 146 acres of wheat, will fetch about $50,000 for the Canadian Foodgrains Bank.

Matching money from Ottawa

The Naicam-Spalding harvest was a community effort involving many farmers and businesses and other residents of the area. (CBC)

That donation is supported by a federal government match of four to one.

"That's [a total of] $250,0000," Meier noted. "That's a pretty phenomenal amount of money to come from one community."

Farmer Ron Hetland had some harvesting yet to do on his farm, but he was happy to step up and help with the Naicam-Spalding work.

"The Bible says, 'Don't let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,'" Hetland said. "So I think it's important we all do our charitable deeds strictly because it's the right thing to do, not because there's some reward for me."

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